Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Through the Lens: Explorations in Photo Journaling

My children are doing the most amazing e-course called "Through the Lens: Explorations in Photo Journaling" with Playful Learning's Mariah Bruehl.

The course uses VoiceThread as a e-community for all of the 50 or so students who are between the ages of 6 and 12.  Mariah posts an assignment each week for the children that includes a photography component and a journaling/writing component.  Mariah expertly combines creativity, critical thinking, writing skills, an introduction to photography and community building in this innovative experience. 

It is incredible and my girls absolutely love it.  They are constantly checking in to see if anyone has posted something new or if someone has commented on their work.  They are getting to know their virtual community members (which includes children from all over the US as well as Australia and New Zealand.)  My girls responded with surprise when a fellow "classmate" from New Zealand mentioned that it is now winter there and she's freezing.  "What?" they said, "How can it be winter there when it's summer here?"  This prompted a whole discussion about how seasons are different depending on which hemisphere one resides in.  Their world is getting bigger by participating in this class from our kitchen table.

The other thing I like about this format is that I don't have to send my kids off to camp.  I love having my girls around in the summer and I don't need the daycare that summer day-camps can provide.  They do participate in an occasional day-camp for a special interest, but, mostly, we're home together.  This class has been a great opportunity for us to spend time together doing something fun and learning something new.  I love experiencing these things with my children rather than sending them off to do it without me.  

When the class started, Mariah said to the parents, "You are pioneers.  There haven't been e-courses for children, but I believe they have tremendous potential."  I couldn't agree more and my mind is spinning with the possibilities, especially as I begin this next chapter in the world of elementary education.

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